Thursday, October 15, 2015

Success Equals Luck

Formula for success? Luck, says the CEO ranked number 1 by Harvard Business Review--not strategy, nor its execution. As the titular head of Novo Nordisk, the largest provider of insulin, you might say his company's success was due to the misfortune of a global health crisis. But they've also stuck with their core competency. Lars Sorenson claims he was part of earlier business diversification disasters, like trying to break into the personal glucose monitoring equipment. They're not good at much but what they've done for the last 90 years: make insulin. It's refreshing to hear a CEO talk about luck. More astute leaders recognize that they have their position because of a lucky opportunity or good timing with some preparation.

Sorenson even dislikes his crowning as the number one leader. He leads a team that does excellent work. He acknowledges that he might have lucked into the position after his predecessor's great leadership to create a foundation he could build on. He also says a great leader in a dysfunctional organization may not have the right metrics for a while, so he hates these kinds of rankings.

Humbly, he admits that he makes the least of any CEO on the list, but he still makes more in a single year than a blue-collar worker makes in a lifetime. But keeping his pay gap relatively small in his company reduces any influence-loss  or resentment that might hinder his credibility with his staff and others in the organization, and it facilitates trust that his decisions aren't based on how much he puts in his pocket. Would other CEO's consider this? Many do, but you don't hear about them.

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